New Report Shares Personalized Learning Guidance

A new report, "Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning Summit: Findings & Recommendations to Accelerate Implementation," is a 32-page cookbook for using technology to personalize education. The recipes are based on what was shared at a 2014 summit hosted by North Carolina State University's Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Among the essential ingredients: the right usage of data, content and curriculum, research and development, human capacity and technology architecture.

The summit brought together 100 people in education from schools, universities, industry, associations and non-profits to "identify and accelerate the many important initiatives underway to deliver the new learning paradigms needed to accomplish personalized learning." Co-sponsors included Digital Promise, the Software & Information Industry Association and the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators.

Organizers identified five strands — those essential ingredients — that were "critical" for putting technology to work in personalizing learning, and assigned working groups to develop each of those themes and come up with recommendations.

One recommendation is that data needs to provide a "robust, timely and dynamic picture of student performance, preferences and needs." Challenges include a lack of data interoperability, which prevents teachers from easily pulling data into meaningful compilations; performing data analytics while still addressing concerns about student data privacy restrictions and regulations; and tagging content from multiple sources to help teachers and students find it when it's needed. For each of those challenge areas, the report offers recommendations.

According to James Basham, co-author of the report and an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas, "We're at a great time in education, actually rethinking and re-engineering what's possible. This document provides a starting point for transforming how we design the future of teaching, learning, and research in education.”

The Friday Institute announced that it would host a follow-up summit in late 2015 to continue building on the current work.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.